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Huskers Expected to Name New Defensive Line Coach
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Huskers Expected to Name New Defensive Line Coach

February 25, 2019

It appears Scott Frost is close to making his first new assistant coaching hire at Nebraska.

Tony Tuioti, California’s former defensive line and outside linebackers coach, is expected to join the Huskers as the team’s new defensive line coach, a source confirmed to Hail Varsity. The news was first reported by Rivals and 247Sports.

A defensive lineman for Hawaii during his playing days, Tuioti has coaching experience at virtually every level of the game.

This past season, he coached the defensive line for Cal, but was responsible for the team’s outside linebackers during his first year in 2017.

During that first season, the Golden Bears finished tied for 41st nationally in sacks, a 66-spot improvement from their 2016 finish. Outside linebackers, Tuioti’s responsibility, were responsible for 11 of Cal's 28.0 total sacks while producing a havoc rate (tackles for loss plus passes defensed plus forced fumbles) that ranked 11th in the country.

In 2018, when Tuioti moved down to the line, Cal improved there as well. The Golden Bears went from 52nd nationally in rushing yards allowed per carry to 24th, an improvement of a half-yard a carry. Cal also improved its sack total over the previous season.

Before two seasons in Berkeley, Tuioti was the Director of Player Personnel at Michigan in 2016 where, according to his Cal bio, “he also played a critical role in developing the relationships for a satellite camp tour in the summer of 2016 that included American Samoa, Australia and Hawaii among nearly 40 locations.” The Wolverines’ 2017 recruiting class ranked fifth in the country, according to 247Sports.

Tuioti spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons in the NFL as an assistant defensive line and quality control coach for the Cleveland Browns.

He began his coaching career at his alma mater in 2000, where he served as a graduate assistant on defense for two seasons. After stops at the high school level, he returned to Hawaii in 2008 and spent the next five seasons as the team’s Director of Player Personnel (2008-09), defensive line coach (2010-11) and linebackers coach (2012-13). 

To this day, he is one of only two people from the university to have won a WAC Championship both as a player and coach.

In replacing Mike Dawson, who left Nebraska to coach outside linebackers for the New York Giants, Tuioti is the first new assistant to join this coaching staff since Frost put the group together when he took over Central Florida in 2016. Some thought Frost might look for a candidate with a history of coaching alongside members of the current staff, as the bond between the Husker coaches has been widely publicized, but Tuioti joins the fray absent any prior connections.

With recruiting ties on the West Coast and a diverse coaching background, it looks like Frost just went with the best man for the job.

Dawson’s annual salary at Nebraska was $475,000. It’s possible Tuioti’s could be similar, though the Huskers have some wiggle room to work with under the $5 million salary ceiling the Huskers set when Frost signed on in 2017. The initial combined salary of Nebraska’s assistants came in at $4.875 million. Tuioti made $276,500 at Cal, according to USA Today’s assistant coaching database.

Nebraska begins spring practices on Monday, March 4.

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